AFRICA Israel USA is lucking out big time.
The company that bought the landmarked old New York Times building at 229 W. 43rd St. has signed its first lease – and it’s a whopper.
The deal is for a hunk of retail space consisting of portions of the ground, lower level and basement and totals a stunning 59,294 square feet – 4,406 feet on the ground floor, 20,349 feet in the basement and 34,539 feet in a subterranean section.
Sources say other retailers are negotiating for the remaining 121,000 feet, which features entrances on both 43rd and 44th streets.
The lease signed Feb. 11 with TSX Operating is for its Running Subway division, an entertainment group responsible for events like “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC in SoHo and “Bodies. . .The Exhibition” at the South Street Seaport. Other works are in development.
The space could become a new theater or simply an exhibition space, though permits filed at the Buildings Department don’t specify its future use.
Cora Cahan, head of The New 42nd Street, the non-profit that runs revitalized area theaters, said, “If they have tenants or tenants for the retail space on the ground floor that’s major news and good news in this climate.”
Cahan noted the space previously held The Times’ massive printing presses and had very high ceilings but also contained many columns.
The asking rent through Robert K. Futterman & Associates on CoStar was $275 a square foot for the ground floor and $60 a foot for the lower level. The rent on the 52,115-foot basement had been “negotiable.”
Futterman repped both sides of the “very” long-term deal.
AI USA bought the building from Tishman Speyer Properties in 2007 for $525 million. Last year it sold a 49 percent interest to China Sonangol, a Hong Kong based investment fund, for $50 million, plus the assumption of half the property’s $720 million in debt.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported that Africa Israel Investments has written down the value of the 770,000-square-foot former New York Times building by 53 percent, to $315 million, from $671 million in the fourth quarter.
Sources say Billy Macklowe is negotiating with an investor to buy out a mezzanine lender that’s trying to foreclose on 1330 Ave. of the Americas – yet another Macklowe property in financial difficulty.
The office building was purchased at the very end of 2006 for nearly $498 million – nearly $1,000 a foot – using a $240 million first mortgage and another $260 million in mezzanine debt, including the $130 million owned by Canadian lender Cadim.
The building has 150,000 feet of vacancy out of its 572,300 total feet.
Vornado Realty Trust Chairman Steven Roth and President Michael Fascitelli each sold shares in their associated Alexander’s after hitting a 10-year expiring exercise date.
Both executives separately bought 150,000 stock-appreciation rights for $63.375 a share, or $9.5 million in total, on March 2 and sold them the same day for $139.50 a share, or $20.925 million in total.
The transaction enabled both men to each generate a cool $11,418,750 in profit.
Of course, had they been able to wait until yesterday’s rally, which sent Alexander’s shares surging 19 percent to $175.38, they each would have walked away with another $5.4 million.
According to public filings, Alexander’s would have had to pay $57.5 million had these SAR’s been exercised on Dec. 31, 2008.
“Any change in our stock price from the closing price of $254.90 at Dec. 31, 2008, would increase or de crease the amount we would have to pay upon exercise,” the filing stated.
Alexander’s owns seven area properties which are developed, leased and managed by Vornado.
A company spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment. [email protected]